September 21, 2023

Open Court


Novak Djokovic back in Oz in 2023 (updated)

Djokovic during a practice session on Rod Laver Arena in January, smack in the middle of his immigration drama.

There were plenty of media leaks Tuesday in the Australian media, although no named sources or official confirmation.

But the good news – both for Djokovic and his many fans – is that man himself confirmed the news Wednesday during the press conference at the ATP Finals after an impressive, routine victory over Russia’s Andrey Rublev that put him into the semifinals.

He will be allowed to return to Australia to compete in the 2023 Australian Open, after all the drama of last January.

“Well, of course, I was very happy to receive the news yesterday. Yeah, it was a relief obviously knowing what I and people closest to me in my life have been through this year with what happened in Australia and post-Australia obviously,” Djokovic said during his post-match press conference. “I could not receive better news for sure – during this tournament as well.”

Djokovic pushed back on the notion advanced by a journalist that he somehow looked “more relaxed” Wednesday having been relieved of the burden. But he said it was a relief to know that he can now plan his off-season and prepare for the first major of 2023.

Djokovic in one of his several practices at Melbourne Park, while his case was going through the system in January 2022.

“Of course, knowing that I have clarity now, what I do in the off-season, starting the season in Australia, also of course did relieve some of the pressure me and my team felt. Just giving that clarity makes it great for us,” he said.

“Australian Open has been my most successful Grand Slam. I made some of the best memories there. Of course, I want to go back there, I want to play tennis, do what I do best, hopefully have a great Australian summer.”

Officials Confirm the News

On Sky News on Wednesday, Australian opposition leader and former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said this, via The Age:

“I suspect that in hindsight I hope that Mr Djokovic has some regret about some elements of his conduct and the rest. But the fact is that we’re a couple of years down the track now and it will be good to see him playing great tennis here in Australia.”

Thursday, the Immigration Minister’s office specified in a release that it wasn’t a matter of the three-year ban being revoked, but simply the decision to cancel his original visa being revoked because the existing conditions in January (i.e., the requirement to be vaccinated to enter the country) no longer existed.

For the Minister for Immigration to go down that specific path would indicate that, if the vaccination requirement were still in force, Djokovic might have had to find another path to try to get into the country.

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